28 Days Later
Rated: R for strong violence and gore, language and nudity. 1 hour, 53 minutes.
Publication date: Jun. 27, 2003
Review by Jim Shelby
The movie begins with jumpy video clips of a world gone mad -- horrendous violence, crowds rioting, burning, looting. All the mayhem is a video shown to a monkey who is trapped Clockwork Orange-style to a gurney, forced to watch egregious examples of human lunacy.
Just as we discover we are in some sadistic mammal testing lab, animal-rights commandos break in to free the primates. This is where it all goes horribly wrong. The chimps have been infected with Rage, a disease which turns out to be unthinkably worse than monkeypox. In this film's flagrantly wet and grotesque scenario, if your own sweet mother were to become infected with Rage, you'd have 10 to 20 seconds to kill her before she attacks you, vomits blood all over you and tries to rip your heart out and eat it. Sheesh. Let's just say it's a pretty tense world where your allies can become your lethal enemy within seconds.
Jim (Cillian Murphy), a London bicycle messenger who has been in a coma for days, somehow missed getting infected or murdered by those infected with the disease. He awakes in a hospital bed entirely alone. Remember the amazing shot of Tom Cruise in the middle of a vacant Times Square in "Vanilla Sky"? Multiply that 10 times and then take a walk through a completely abandoned London. We are treated to scene after scene of this major city ravaged and emptied by a truly horrific disease, completely devoid of humans, except for the occasional infected flesh-eating fellow with extraordinary strength, speed and malevolence. Jim finds some other uninfected survivors and they take a three-day trip to Manchester in a London cab in the hope of finding an army base that promises rescue. Of course what they find there is worse than anything they could have imagined.
By the end of the movie exhaustion set in, and I was really ready for it to be over. If millions have died, what kind of happy ending is really possible, although that's what the film asks us to accept. Though this movie is not for the faint of heart, it was made with an inventiveness and panache which somewhat sweetens the dismayingly dark vision of the future it explores.